I have been spinning the fur of departed special friends expressing spirituality through fiber art. Below you can read about Tashafur (Tasha was long passed when I met the family – I don’t know how it came up! She produced a bag that she had been keeping of Tasha’s fur (or Tashafur) and I said “you know, I could spin that!” I blended it with some wool that I had hand-processed and dyed, and then produced eight skeins of this. Even though you wash it a million times, it still smells like your old friend – for a dog owner, this is a real pleasure!) and Daphne (a White Samoyed who I was lucky enough to meet before she passed, owned by sound engineer Kristina Stykos). Samoyed fur is prized amongst hand spinners.
It gave me a real pleasure to help them commemorate their wonderful friends who had passed on.
This is what we call affectionately ‘Tashafur’. It is some hand processed and dyed in the fleece wool blended with some of Mary’s beloved dog, Tasha’s fur. Tasha was a beautiful Australian Shepherd. Here are a few words from Mary about her wonderful dog:
“Rose spun wool from my beloved Australian Shepherd, Tasha, for me after my dog had died. She combined it with a hand-processed fleece to create the gorgeous blue wool pictured. Tasha was the best dog. We got her when she was 5 weeks old when we were living in Iowa and when she was seven years old, we moved to Scotland and she endured six months of quarantine before she could rejoin our family.
On the first night home with us, she immediately resumed her duties; she went upstairs with us when I was putting my three small children to bed and remained with them after I went downstairs, only coming down after they were all asleep. Four years later when we moved to Vermont, she came too, traveling with us by train to London, and then flying across the Atlantic in a crate. She continued to be an integral part of our family life until her death at 15.
I had kept combings of her beautiful fur for years, and Rose took those bags of fur and created this wonderful wearable memorial to her. I have been waiting to knit it into a cardigan for myself. My eldest son taught me to knit when he learned in first grade at a Waldorf school, and I have made numerous items since then, all for other people.
I have become quite skilled at making Aran knits, and I think I have become adept enough to make myself an Irish sweater from this very special wool. Thank you Rose, for giving me the opportunity to have this lasting remembrance of Tasha.”
““We all stood in the kitchen last night oooing and ahhhing at the beauty of Daphne’s Legacy Yarn and feeling the special meaning it has to us. Thank you so much for your art and heart… and from all of us, keep up the amazing handwork. We are hugging it, petting it, and admiring it. Also have enjoyed your music, nice job! And love to read all the interesting notes.” -Kristina Stykos
This portrait is of great-great grandmother, Augusta A. Diamond Whitney(1851-1929), wife of James A.Whitney of Tunbridge, Vermont, and daughter of Lucy Streeter and John Diamond who immigrated to Vermont from Scotland. John Diamond was himself a weaver and had a business selling shirts. Among the items that remain today that Augusta Diamond wove are two linen table cloths a hand-spun wool blanket and a hand-spun linen sheet. The fragment of knitted curtain lace pictured below was also made by Augusta Diamond and were in active daily use in Augusta’s home, then in the kitchen at great-grandmother Whitney’s house and subsequently handed down ’til only a tattered scrap remains to tell the story.
Common Thread Cultural Connections was an arts organization whose main purpose was to make cultural connections through folk music and art. We worked to connect otherwise disenfranchised populations in care facilities with the wider community and educated youth through experiences as traveling arts ambassadors in contact with peer groups in their own community and in other countries, and in service in care facilities through their artistic performance. We helped them to come to an understanding of place within their own culture.
We had been an affiliate of the Willowell Foundation until June 2008. Since that time, a documentary film has been created with much input by the teens that went on the first Common Thread Cultural Connections Youth Exchange and shown to enthusiastic response throughout the ‘Greater’ Champlain Valley and in the Carpathian Mountain region of Romania (Transylvania) to many of the venues who have been touched by the Common Thread outreach.
Transylvania remains a region where sustainable agriculture has continued as an unbroken tradition. For this and many other reasons it has become a good place to mirror for our young people ways that they may be inspired to embody their own cultural heritage.
A Journey Cap- lovingly made from all hand processed and Handspun fiber by Rose Diamond and imaginatively knit with wools gathered from field and fen while Rose and Pete Sutherland were visiting and sharing music in the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania – Romania, in Connemara, Western Ireland, the Champlain Valley, Vermont, USA; with Camel down and Cashmere from the reindeer herders of Mongolia, brought as a special gift from Sas Carey to benefit Common Thread Cultural Connections through folk music and art.
Each year since 2004 when the folk art organization Common Thread Cultural Connections was founded, Rose Diamond has collected raw wool while traveling around Transylvania as well as at home in Vermont, and prepares it, carding and spinning it into Common Thread. Then blankets or rugs or other garments are made as a symbol of the cultural exchange that is being woven with communities engaged in the exchange.